I had the chance to catch up with the elusive Slow Magic over the phone about a month ago; we talked about EVERYTHING, from anonymity to hypothetical bear attack survival strategies to Grimes for president, so get ready to LEARN. Also be sure to grab tickets to see Slow Magic live at DC9 tonight and at Santos Party House Thursday, and definitely snag yourself a copy of How To Run Away (out now via Downtown Records), ’cause it’s completely magical and you’d be depriving your ears not to put it on heavy rotation. HERE WE GO:
Well first of all, the record is amazing; I’ve listened to it a million times. Was there any sort of goal going that you had going into it in terms of a story you wanted to tell or a sound you wanted to convey, or did it fall into place more naturally than that?
Yeah, I wanted there to be a narrative and a feeling (even though it’s mostly instrumental); I guess the title kind of sums it up — I guess it’s just about getting away from wherever it is that’s holding you back (or even someplace that’s good) just to find something better. For me it’s autobiographical, because I’ve been chasing the dream of playing music and moving away from home to do that, and it’s been really fun.
Oh, I’m sure…and it seems like it’s been going really well for you, too. In terms of the project in general, did you have a mission statement for what you wanted to accomplish when it began, as opposed to taking another musical avenue to express yourself?
Yeah, I just simply wanted it to be something where people could focus on the art itself. As far as a goal I had, I just wanted to share music in any way possible. I really didn’t expect a lot of things that I’ve gotten to do, but I’ve always hoped to be able to do this.
Well, and it seems like it’s better a lot of the time when people have low or no expectations for what’s to come of the career. Now, has it been tough to maintain your anonymity throughout this process? (Because it’s hard for anyone with the internet and all that, let alone someone in the spotlight.)
Yeah, it’s been a little tough, but also it’s surprisingly worked out, especially when I’m playing shows or I’m out in public; I can just hide in the crowd before and after the show, and that’s really fun. A few people will figure it out, but they’re always good at keeping a secret, because I think it makes it more fun for everyone.
Oh, totally. I mean, if I had a superpower it would definitely be…not to be invisible, but to be able to become anonymous at any given time. I think that that would be pretty amazing.
That’s cool. [Laughs]
And do you feel like (not necessarily having to compromise any of the musical technology for production) if we could go back to a time where the internet wasn’t so prominent, do you think you’d still choose to be anonymous?
I definitely think some of the approach to the way I started the project was in response to the way that music is (and was, when I started) with the internet, just for a lot of different reasons. But I think if it wasn’t as prominent…I don’t know, I think I would still have started the project, but it would’ve been more based on the people that came to the shows. I think it’d have the same effect, just a little less of the universal reach, I guess.
Right, right. Well, I’ve constructed some questions based on the song titles from your new record, so bear with me here, and feel free to say “pass” at any point. We’ll start with “Still Life” – if you could freeze any moment of your life in time, what do you think that might be?
Hmm…I could think of people or places that I’d want to freeze (or at least slow down), but I guess what first comes to mind is the time that I spent in Iceland. It’s just an amazing place, and it does kind of feel like time freezes when you’re there, so I guess I’d choose Iceland with someone that I love.
Yeah, I’ve not been, but I’ve been considering it for a while; it’s pretty cheap to fly there from New York, and it just seems really magical.
Yeah, it’s pretty quick, too. It’s amazing, you should definitely go if you get a chance.
Well, fingers crossed. Now, the next one is for “Girls” – who do you think would make for the best first female president? It doesn’t have to be anybody involved in politics, just could be any woman.
I’m going to say Grimes, because that’d be pretty cool. I don’t like politics, and I think that she could probably handle it.
True, we’d definitely get better treatment for animals, and maybe a better National Anthem.
Yeah, and I think the political rallies would look more like her music videos, and that’d be cool.
Totally. Okay, next question is based on “Wait 4 U” – what is something that (for you) is worth the wait? For me it’d probably be Thanksgiving dinner, just because it takes so long to cook but is so good as an end result, and/or a new season of Game of Thrones.
I think that there are a few things, but definitely (for me) finishing something that I’m working on is worth the wait, but that’s more working than waiting. I guess I travel a lot and I don’t get to see all my family or friends, so I guess I’d say that; waiting to spend time with them is always worth it.
Right, which is always the funny thing, because I think people who don’t understand the industry just think you’ve got all this time to see the places you’re touring, but really there’s very little of that happening. NOW, the next one is for “Hold Still” – what can we typically find you doing when you’re not working?
I mean, lately I’ve been working as much as I possibly can, but I really like coffee, and making coffee, so that’s definitely something that gets my mind off of the craziness. So yeah, spending some time making good espresso.
Cool! And for “Youth Group” – do you believe in the afterlife? We’re taking the spiritual approach for that song title.
Yeah, I guess it’s the name. I definitely do, I just don’t know what it looks like. Hopefully it’s good.
I hope so, too. And for “Let U Go”, was there any track that you tried to work into this record that didn’t necessarily fit and you had to cut it loose?
Yeah, I mean, there’s plenty of ideas and rough drafts and a lot of stuff that did, but there was one track that we decided to take out very late that will probably be released very soon or be exclusive to Japan or something like that. [Laughs]
But the internet exists, so hopefully everyone will hear it.
Exactly, that’s the nice thing about it. And now for “Manhattan” – my favorite drink happens to be a Manhattan, so what is YOUR favorite drink?
I’d have to say my favorite drink is whiskey and ginger ale with a little bit of lime, and if I’m thinking of my favorite whiskey right now, I’d say a Woodford Reserve is the best. Or, not the BEST, but within reason. [Laughs]
Of course, of course. Now, for “On Yr Side”, are you right-handed or left-handed?
Cool, me too. We’re fortunate.
Yeah, some of my family is left-handed, so I guess I lucked out.
You did, you did. Okay, and for “Bear Dance’ – if you came face-to-face with a Grizzly, what would your survival strategy be?
Well I’d be wearing the mask, so hopefully intimidation mixed with flashing lights. I’ve heard you’re supposed to look as big as you can, so I’d probably dance around.
Yeah, it’s weird, because sometimes they tell you to look as big as possible, and other times they tell you to curl up in a ball…very conflicting bits of advice. WHAT DO YOU DO?!
Right, or there’s different advice for black bears vs. Grizzly bears. Confusing.
Exactly. Well, hopefully we’ll never have to find out first-hand which bit of advice is right.
Yeah, I hope so.
And for “Closer” – what would you like to be closer to?
I mean, at the moment I’d say closer to playing a show; although I just finished a tour, I already miss playing. But also I’d like to be closer to all the things I’m working on finishing; it’s always fun to finish things.
Totally. Well, so that wraps up THAT portion, but you’re at DC9 on the 23rd and Santos Party House on the 25th; while I’m sure you’re looking forward to ALL the shows on this tour, is there anyplace you’re especially looking forward to rolling through?
Yeah, I mean, last time I was in DC I got to walk around all the monuments and everything, which was really cool; I’ve never been into politics or anything like that, but I really liked it a lot. And New York is probably one of my favorite cities; there’s so much to do there.
Yeah, there’s almost so much to do here that it’s kind of paralyzing; I always feel like I can’t pick, so then I end up watching Netflix in my bed instead. BUT, finally, do you have any words of wisdom to impart on the audience before we wrap up, whether just generally speaking or more specifically to do with music and how people who want to start up a career can go about that?
I think it’s always my best advice to say that with music (or anything that you’re trying to do), don’t worry about what everyone else is doing; just use the tools you have and make something. You’ve just got to do it. People send me emails asking me what exactly I use and all this, but I think it’s more important that you just use what you have and make something.
You know what else you’ve just got to do? GET TICKETS TO SEE SLOW MAGIC LIVE. Remember, tonight at DC9 and Thursday at Santos Party House. AND follow Slow Magic on Facebook and Twitter in the meantime for all the latest news, yeah?